chapter  12
20 Pages

: The Archaeology of Historical Indigenous Australia

ByAlistair Paterson

The roots of colonial Australia extend back into the 17th century, a past that continues to inspire debates across the nation’s kitchens, universities, parliaments, and media. Matters of identity remain some of the most contested issues in the nation: in Australia the colonial past is important and will continue to be as long as we ask “how did we get here?” The contemporary importance of historical issues has been demonstrated in 2008 with an apology by the prime minister to Aboriginal Australians removed as children from their parents under official assimilation policies. The archaeology of the recent past, of the time since European and other settlers arrived, is important for providing a unique way of understanding the historical period and all its complexity. In this chapter, I aim to provide some historical depth to the archaeological study of Australian Indigenous peo-

ple, as well as a focus on recent and particularly important archaeological work. This review is not comprehensive but illustrative, and more extensive studies are found elsewhere (for further overviews, see Harrison and Williamson 2002; Lilley 2000; Lydon and Ireland 2005; McGiven and Russell 2005; Murray 2004; Torrence and Clarke 2000; and Veth et al. 2008).